Commentary by Sue Morrow: Despite FAA shutdown, city airport looking good

It's a wait and see situation at the Carson City Airport in the wake of the shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration when Congress failed to pass a bill two weeks ago to continue its funding. Harlow Norvell, chairman of theCarson City Airport Authority, said the failure by Congress to fund the FAA could affect grant money that has already been approved for the city's public use airport located in the eastern part of the capital.

As far as the local airport is concerned, said Norvell, "we don't have any reason to anticipate that essential aviation services will be curtailed by air traffic control."

A new runway is complete, open and in use, he said. There is a concern, however, about a delay in completion of a taxiway on the north endof the runway. The east side has been finished, but the section on the west side awaits completion, Norvell said. That project has been approved by the FAA but the funding could be delayed. ... the delay (in funding) could be difficult for us if it pushes us into the colder months and we have problems laying asphalt and striping," he said.

He said the airport authority had anticipated the completion for the latter part of August, "but we really don't know what might happen as a result" of the FAA shutdown.

The new runway, he said, "was our major accomplishment, and that was needed to keep the airport open."

He said the airport has received, through federal grants, about $50 million over the last four or so years through the FAA's funding schedule.

He praised Nevada U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and his staff for being "exceptionally helpful to us in securing that funding (for) making improvements, and we're very grateful for that."

Another improvement cited by Norvell is the installation of a new automated weather observing system that will allow the national weather service, contingent upon its approval and participation, to provide a terminal area forecast for the airport that will allow commercial operators such as charter and corporate aircraft to use the capital city's airport. He emphasized, however, that commercial airlines will never be allowed here. Despite the uncertainty about future funding, the airport appears to be going great guns.

There are about 100-200 airplanes based there with most of its many hangers pretty much full, according to Norvell.

He said about three requests are received each week from people, mostly from the West Coast, who want to base their airplanes at the airport.

Norvell was especially excited when he announced that John Seibold, who founded Scenic Airlines in Las Vegas, just purchased a hanger here, describing him as "a very notable addition to our tenant population." Seibold, a noted aviation developer and entrepreneur, bought a hanger where it is believed he plans to base about three-to-four aircraft, Novell said.

"We're hoping with our infrastructure improvement we'll be able to attract other people in basing aircraft here."

You could almost see the dollar signs rolling in his eyes as he ticked off the revenue for the capital city. Aviation enthusiasts will be "paying personal property taxes on their airplanes, real property taxes and taxes on the fuel, renting cars, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants."

Not too shabby, eh?

• Sue Morrow is a longtime journalist and member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame. She can be reached to soozymorrow@yahoo,.com.


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